Wednesday, January 31

Various and sundry

+ As a follow-up to my post on climate change I'll link Tom's pretty lengthy post today, Getting warmer on climate change. I would say Tom's a little more convinced of global warming than I am, but he then falls firmly in the Lomborg cost/benefit analysis camp, which I totally agree with. For example: Why spend zillions of dollars to counter rising seas that will mostly affect poor nations when we spend pennies on those dollars to stop simple diseases?

+ Paul took up my tag, and he tagged his son Walter .

+ Do you remember that I link almost all things Cthulhu?

+ David has another post on the Osprey .

+ Dan allows his college classes to govern themselves. His latest class voted out representation and voted in direct democracy.

+ Names I like from the Hype Machine:
  • sweep the leg johnny
  • Gliss (in honor of playing trombone in 5th and 6th grade)
  • The Boo Radleys
  • The Bagginz
  • Pocahaunted

Tuesday, January 30

Thoughts about David

Reading the tragic part of David's reign. Man, David sure made a lot of mistakes. He shouldn't have taken Bathsheba, he shouldn't have tried to cover it up, he shouldn't have had Uriah killed.

But, interestingly, he responded with faith to the Lord's judgement. And the Lord blessed David's second son with Bathsheba, Solomon. In fact, the line of the Messiah ran through him. Crazy.

Then, David was a horrible father. He should have disciplined Amnon, maybe killed him (what did the Mosaic law call for?) after he raped Tamar. Instead, without justice, Absalom went nuts. David should have disciplined Absalom a number of times.

That's not to say Absalom wouldn't have gone bad anyway. He certainly showed a flair for it.

My reading of this story is very different at 35. At 25, I would have taken the lesson as 'We must avoid David's mistakes.' That's still an important lesson, of course. But, life isn't always that simple: Must do the right thing. Time and chance happen to all men and women. Human weakness is virtually certain. To err is human. To forgive is truly divine. The God of the Bible forgives when asked. The important human response to sin is repentance. As a response of faith to sin, David was good at repentance. In fact, that must have been a large part of the Bible calling him 'a man after God's own heart'.

I don't want to sin. But it is good to know that when I do sin, repentance brings forgiveness.

Since forgiveness is divine, repentance is somewhat counter-intuitive. We think 'Well, I've gone this far.' or 'Forgiveness can't be that simple.' or maybe "I wouldn't forgive me if I were God.' And we just keep on going.

Of course, there is much more to the dynamics of sin, faith, repentance and forgiveness. But, in itself, forgiveness really is simply available to those who ask, to those who repent. In fact, the repentance doesn't even have to be 100% sincere (since there's no such thing, according to the doctrine of Total Depravity). A guy I used to know used to say that you get as much forgiveness as you want. You get as much mercy as you want. In some ways, it really is that simple.

Monday, January 29

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you

Sharon had a cover story for the Washington Post Magazine about the 'extremely large group of people who believe the government is targeting them as part of a "mind control" campaign.'

Subsequently, there are tons of posts out there about it, lots of comments (including 27 at Sharon's weblog), and Sharon's Gmail is literally full.

If you are interested in this at all, you MUST READ those comments at Sharon's weblog from people who believe they are targeted. I thought this article was interesting when I saved it, but hadn't clicked through. Now that I read it... Wholey Cow! These people are convinced!

But will I make myself into a Targeted Individual by posting this? ;-)

Al exaggerates

A while back, Stuart had a post about about a piece written by Bjorn Lomborg, author of 'The Skeptical Environmentalist', in the Wall Street Journal. It addressed 'An Inconvenient Truth' and is entitled 'Will Al Gore Melt?'. Three brief points:

1) Al Gore backed out of an interview with the paper at the last minute despite the paper acceding to his conditions showing us that Mr. Gore is unable to defend his positions and answer critics.

2) The economic cost of countering global warming is devastating with the world's poor bearing the brunt.

3) The claims in "An Inconvenient Truth" are at the very least an exaggeration.

Also on this topic An Inconvenient Truth, Gore as climate exaggerator by, who cannot be dismissed as anti-science, global warming deniers. A quote that they quote:

"The scientific base for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time."

What's my point? It's not as simple as Al makes it. But it seems like many, many people have drunk the Kool-Aid, err, free trade coffee ;-)

[Insert Al Gore exaggerated about inventing the Internet joke here ;-)]

Are Kyoto and compact fluorescent bulbs really the answer? What's Al's carbon footprint like nowadays?

Sunday, January 28

Six questions

Brad tagged me. I'll play :-)

1) What is the most fun work you've ever done, and why?
I like this internet stuff.

2A) Name one thing you did in the past that you no longer do but wish you did?
I loved leading worship and teaching (sunday school, etc)).

2B) Name one thing you've always wanted to do but keep putting it off?
This one is obvious: Christine and I have been planning on going on a Disney cruise for our tenth anniversary. That was almost 41 months ago...

3A) What two things would you most like to learn or be better at, and why?
ProtoIndoEuropean, guitar

3B) If you could take a class/workshop/apprentice from anyone in the world living or dead, who would it be and what would you hope to learn?
The Professor. Anything he wanted to teach me.

4A) What three words might your best friends or family use to describe you?
clever, funny, sensitive

4B) Now list two more words you wish described you.
fit, taller ;-)

5) What are your top three passions? (can be current or past, work, hobbies, or causes)
most ideas, my family, world peace ;-)

6) Write and answer one more question that YOU would ask someone
What's something else you would like to do? Color commentary ;-)

I tag Paul, Macon and Jim.

Bienvenidos a Miami!

Paul links Dave Barry's guide to Miami for those attending the Super Bowl. REALLY funny...

Saturday, January 27

Is this thing on?

Well, I guess I'm on the new Blogger.

I've been one of the last to migrate since I have over 2000 posts. When I saw that Jaq had migrated with his over 5000 posts, I figured they might be ready for me. And they were. And here I am.

Does this mean I have to redesign? Should I switch to Blogger comments from yaccs? I should, but... We'll see.

In the meantime, let's throw up a couple of links.

+ Here's one using data visualization software to map social relationships in the New Testament (via kottke).

+ When I saw this file on I wondered why it was making the rounds. Being from Iowa and interested in military history, I clicked through. There's a famous stat on the Iowa class battleships of how far they blow themselves back in the water if they turn all six of their 16 inch guns (in three batteries) in the same direction and fire at the same time. This is a picture of that activity. Pretty cool.

Thursday, January 25

Hooray for the Osprey!

I'm a sucker for the Osprey.

Sure it's been in development for 20 years and there have been a lot of crashes.

But those tiltrotors are so cool! And if they ever get it to work as advertised, it really will be a very useful machine.

And 130M$ a piece doesn't sound too bad for military hardware.

David Axe starts a series today about the Osprey called Ready for primetime? that I'm really looking forward to. Here's what I want to know: Seems like I heard somewhere that the Osprey doesn't do so well with sand. Any truth to that, David?

Wednesday, January 24

Star Wars!

Got these links to original trailers via kottke. A few thoughts:

1. Wow, are these trailers painful.

2. Really interesting comment by the purveyor of the site from the first link:

I'm convinced that without John Williams' score, we wouldn't have the prequels to bash because nothing after "A New Hope" would have been made. It's jarring to see those clips without the music in the background.

I wouldn't go that far, but he's got a point about the greatness of Williams' music (right, Jaq ;-)

3. Even with what I consider to be many wrong turns in the franchise, I still love the original 3 movies.

Three trailers for Episodes 4 and 5
Return of the Jedi

Monday, January 22

NFL Championships report

First of all, credit to the Colts. They held it together and came back. Good for them. I'm not a big Peyton fan, but I'm very happy for Tony Dungy, Dallas Clark, and Bob Sanders. Way to go!

This really is what I thought had a very good chance of happening: The Patriots dodged a bullet last week against a more talented team. They couldn't do it again this week. The Colts even spotted them 21 points.

Did the Patriots choke? I'm open to other answers on this one. My answer is 'no'. Injuries and illness and fatigue finally caught up to them. This article called the Patriots defense 'exhausted' in the second half, and that was definitely my take.

And the Colts played really well. Give them their due. They didn't fall apart when it was 24-3.

I said last week that this contest could come down to FGs made or missed and that would be interesting with the Vinatieri signing, but it really didn't come down to that. The kickers on both sides made their FGs like they were supposed to.

This will not surprise you: I hate sports punditry. In preparation for the games yesterday, I checked out SI's writers' predictions. And they all said 'Here's what WILL happen.' Baloney. I suppose they are expected to do that, but it's idiocy to me. Tell me what might happen. Talk about the dynamics. Give me a prediction. But if you tell me what will happen and it doesn't happen, I mark you down as simply wrong and discount your subsequent future tenses. Period.

On that note, lets turn to the Bears and Saints. A lot of the pundits picked the Saints, no doubt, team of destiny, best offense in the NFC, Rex Grossman stinks, blah, blah, blah.

Well, with a combination of Saints choking and good Bears defense, this one wasn't even a game in the second half.

About the most interesting storyline in out house was Christine pulling against the Saints BECAUSE she grew up in Louisiana and me pulling for them because I like Drew Brees.

Well, Reggie Bush's catch and run away from the defense was interesting.

Good for Lovie Smith. He seems like a real good guy.

Some of the headlines trumpet the Bears' return to the Super Bowl after 21 years. I'm like 'Big Whoop! My poor Vikings haven't been to the Super Bowl in...'

And, to add insult to injury, the Vikings looked-to-be-pretty-decent Defensive Coordinator is leaving after one year to go coach the Steelers. Good for him. Great franchise. Only the third coach in their history. Crazy.

But bad for the Vikes...

Saturday, January 20

Speaking of MetaFilter: 1142


Some of my friends over there colonized an old thread (1142) and just kept posting comments to it. It got too full, or old after awhile, or something, and they migrated to their own web site ( 1142) where they did the same thing. And they're still at it, God bless 'em.

Loot (late aftermath)

I have been meaning and meaning to make a list of the very nice presents I got for Christmas and my birthday. Some you've already heard about:
  1. Creative Zen Vision:M (30GB) Media Player
  2. Civilization IV
  3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (4 Disc Extended Edition) (this was sort of for the whole family)
  4. Getting Things Done (my own paperback copy)
  5. Donkey Konga 2 (shared with Wil)
  6. 300 (hardcover)
  7. Father Elijah - great, Catholic end times novel
  8. Guns, Germs and Steel (again, I've read it, but now I have my own copy)
  9. The Illustrated Brief History of Time (as I've written before: never would have made it through this book without some graphics to break up the deepness)
  10. Give Up - The Postal Service
  11. Plans - Death Cab for Cutie
  12. Heartbeat City - The Cars
  13. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb - U2
  14. Madden 2002 (used, which Christine picked because Daunte was on the cover from back in the Pro Bowl Vikings days)
  15. Rogue Squadron 2: Rogue Leader (also used. Haven't really delved into this one, yet)
  16. Protective skin from for my Vision
  17. Case with belt clip and arm strap for my vision
Note 1: Christine did a great job of shepherding her folks in some of the nice items above.
Note 2: I know. This is too many presents. Christine spent too much on me this year and I spent too much on myself ;-)

Finally, one reason I haven't posted this before now is that I'm very afraid that I have forgotten something! So, if I did, Sweetheart, please don't take offense! Feel free to correct me and I will amend :-)

Brought to you by the flesh-colored flower

+ Etymology of the day:

from Italian incarnatino, which came from the Latin incarnato, something incarnate, made flesh, from in + caro, carn-, "flesh." It is related to carnation, etymologically the flesh-colored flower; incarnate, "in the flesh; made flesh"; and carnal, "pertaining to the body or its appetites."

+ How is it that no one told me about Wikimapia? Perhaps there are too many interesting things on the Internet for me to keep up with ALL of them...

+ Gnash your teeth, all of my Canadian readers:

Bethy was looking at Wikimapia over my shoulder and said 'I didn't know Canada was a country. I thought it was a state.'

I said 'It should be...'

No, not really ;-)

Then she said Daddy, who's the president of Canada and I said I have no idea.

Update: She's lying on the floor right now waiting on me and she said It would be fun if the house was upside down.

+ Names I like from Hype Machine
  • Fantastic Four
  • Fra Lippo Lippi
  • The Royal We
+ Valleywag's 12 Funniest People on the Internet includes the SNL video shorts dude, Skot from the old Mother Ship, Ze Frank (a closet Barnett fan), and Matthew Baldwin of defective yeti. Thoughts:
  1. Yep, those guys are funny.
  2. The gender neutral 'people' encompasses 1 woman and 11 guys.
  3. The f-word is key to humor in this assessment, judging by the short excerpts.

The Netizen, embarassed

Google's (probably) building a server farm up the road near Blythewood and I didn't know about it?!

Saw it in Cringely's column this week.

Skrenta argues that Google's dominance of search and advertising is so profound that most competitors -- especially Yahoo -- would probably be better off NOT even attempting to compete and simply let Google handle search and advertising while Yahoo provides content.

Google intends to take over most of the functions of existing fixed networks in our lives, notably telephone and cable television.

Google's building lots of data centers near plentiful, inexpensive sources of power (which I wrote about in The computer-on-a-planet). They're preparing for more high-quality video, BitTorrent-ish activity.

I've said it before: I welcome our Google overlords ;-)

Go Pats!

Really, I'll be okay if the Colts win tomorrow. That would be nice for Dungy, Clark, and Sanders.

SI sends out these reader polls sometimes, and yesterday it was Who do you want to win the Super Bowl and why? and Who do you think will win and why?

I answered the Pats because I like 'em, but maybe the Colts will get by them this time.

Most readers answered the Saints and the Pats respectively. I guess most of those responders think the Pats will find two more ways to win this season.

I'm looking forward to the AFC Championship tomorrow, especially.

In the meantime, for your enjoyment, here's a recent article about Belichick .

Friday, January 19

Set adrift on memory bliss

Google Checkout has a deal going where they'll give you 10$ toward a purchase of 10$ or more (not including s/h) at a participating vendor. I used my 10 bucks to pickup PM Dawn's greatest hits, which I've been wanting for a while, from CD Universe. Unfortunately, when I told Christine the good news, she did not know who PM Dawn is :-( ;-).

All in all, smooth experience, like PayPal. No complaints. Worth the 10$ off. And I'll happily use it again if I have the need and the vendor supports Google Checkout.

Or if Google gives away more free money ;-)

One of those really smart guys

Have you ever run into one of those people whose every word that comes out of their mouth on their area of expertise (and many other things besides) is the smartest thing you've ever heard?

Tim Keller is like that for me.

(Psych. You thought I was going to say Tom, didn't you? He's pretty good, too... ;-)

Anyway, I bring up Tim (you know, I call him Tim (first name basis). Others call him... Tim (Monty Python reference ;-)) because one of his talks came up on random on my Vision player this morning and it made me stop the random and just start listening through his stuff.

For example, he was talking about Tolkien and how he intentionally didn't do allegory. (Which I, of course, as an amateur Tolkien scholar, perfectly knew. In fact, Tolkien said he despised allegory.) Tim said Tolkien didn't do A Christ figure in LotR, but many like Gandalf as Resurrected Lord, Aragorn as Returning King, Frodo as Suffering Servant...


I know I've listened to that clip before. Why didn't it stick? Why haven't I heard it elsewhere? Why didn't I think of it?

If you want to do some more digging, by all means go to DJ Chuang's unofficial Keller page. I see MANY items over there that I need to check out...

I also see good stuff on Keller at Reformissionary. Two mp3s I haven't listened to yet, but based on past listening, are probably very good:

1. Being the Church in Our Culture
2. Preaching the Gospel

A couple great representative quotes (from Comments) :

… we, as humans, have three ways of reacting to any given situation: moralistically, hedonistically, or by holding fast to the gospel.
… he has this constant theme throughout the sermons about how we add to the gospel…how it's never jesus plus nothing…but jesus plus money, or sexual prowess, or our self-righteousness, or just other stuff, how we refuse at times to let Jesus be the all in all in our lives.

Great day! DJ Chuang links to 15 Keller videos on YouTube!

Tim is Senior Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.

Let's sign off with a representative Keller idea: you're worse than you can know, but God is greater than you can imagine.

Tuesday, January 16

By the way...

When the Pats lined up for the two point conversion, and Faulk went in motion beside Brady, I KNEW it was going to be a direct snap.

I'm smart like that ;-)

Monday, January 15

More on the Patriots

Since Tom's going on Hugh Hewitt's show nine consecutive weeks in row (that's the plan, anyhow), I'm reading Hugh's weblog. Hugh co-weblogger, Dean Barnett (no relation), is a Patriots fan and has a triumphant post about them this morning.

I pretty much agree with everything he said. The Chargers were more physically talented - faster and stronger. And though LaDanian had 90+ rushing yards in the first half, they didn't score enough and they didn't put it away. And the Patriots hung on and beat 'em.

Which brings up the interesting matchup this week. I would say the Colts are not as talented as the Chargers, but will play with more poise than the Chargers did, like they did in outlasting the Ravens. It's a pretty even matchup. The Colts defense has had a couple of good games. Are people figuring out Peyton Manning? He has had a string of not-great games.

I'd say it's about even odds that the game will be decided by the Vinatieri deal, a made Colts kick or a missed Pats kick. But we'll see.

The AFC Champion should definitely be the favorite to win the Super Bowl. The Saints have a talented offense. The Bears-Seahawks game was a battle of who was going to plya least bad. I'll pull for the Saints this week, like I did Saturday, not least of all because I like Drew Brees. We'll see.

And furthermore...

Editor Bradd Hayes over at Enterprise Resilience Mangagement Weblog reproduced my entire post on personal computer security, Safe-guarding your computer, in his latest post, Our Internet Responsibility. Thanks, Bradd!

Another year, another website

Trying to think of what my tagline should be. Maybe 'Designer to the (Defense Observer) Stars'. For some reason, I'm having success doing professional web work for authors who primarily cover defense issues.

All that to say, we're putting the finishing touches on David Axe's new website, War is Boring. (It's titled that way because so much of military life, and even defense reporting, is waiting around for the things to happen that you've prepared for.)

David posts at DefenseTech pretty often and was recently hired by Sharon to work with her at Defense Technology International. More than most reporters, David goes to areas of conflict. He visited Iraq like 6 times last year and just got back from Lebanon. Crazily enough, he did his Masters Degree here in Columbia at USC and we had a chance to meet in person back in November. His latest book, Army 101, is about ROTC at USC and sounds really interesting. Before that, he published a graphic novel about being an embedded reporter entitled WAR FIX.

(Incidentally, this was my second project using WordPress and I sure like it. Wonder if I'll switch to it sometime... Maybe if I become a full time web professional ;-)

Sunday, January 14

The Patriots: Wholey Moley

Watched a lot of football this weekend. I was pretty sure in the 4th Quarter that NE just couldn't match SD's talent on both sides of the ball.

But, wow. They're ahead with 70 seconds left. We'll see...

They did it. Wow.

Can NE go all the way? I don't know. I doubt it. But they can scrape and scrap and consistently find ways to win better than anyone.

Friday, January 12

Palmerston Sea Forts (and surrounding environs)

(And one little link to London ;-)

What else do I have stored up for you in Google Reader? (Which, btw, I read through again today like I explained in the last post, (composed yesterday) and I still like it.) How about Google Sightseeing's post on the Palmerston Sea Forts? A taste:

Back in the 1850s, Britain was worried that France would try and invade, so Lord Palmerston (the Prime Minister of the time) decided to build the Palmerston Forts to defend Portsmouth's dockland, four of which were built out at sea.

Note Wikipedia link in excerpt.

Check this out:

[Part of the Portsmouth defenses] were intended to prevent a hostile force landing further along the coast, approaching Portsmouth from the mainland, taking the tactical high ground to the north of the dockyard. As such, the forts are designed so that all of their main weapons face inland, protecting Portsmouth from the rest of England.

Portsmouth looks to be about 70 miles southwest of London. Check out the three major harbors.

Macon will especially be interested in this, having read exhaustively on the Napoleonic Wars.

Almost unrelated thought: Why don't I think of London as more of a port, as being closer to the sea? It looks so close on this map, say about 15 miles? Just can't make my brain do it.

Savory mix

+ Christine has been asking me to look into this for some time. I searched yesterday and couldn't find anything definitive, so I turned it over to the smart people over at the old Mother Ship. Here was my question:

Will raising my computer up off the floor really help?
January 11, 2007 10:03 AM

Some tech guy once told my wife that leaving your computer tower on the floor will destroy it. His solution was to raise the tower up an inch or two off the floor. That's the part I doubt. I know computers suck in a lot of dust. Does raising them up that little bit really help much?

Short answer: not really. 38 comments so far. Some really interesting, a couple funny ones. Almost enough to tempt me back into MeFi...

Except, for me, at least, it's a black hole-like almost infinite time-suck ;-)

+ In other 'I am very famous' news, after posting to yesterday, I checked my site meter to see if many people came over, not least of all because of my INSANELY low user number (There are now 47k+ users on MeFi and I am #252 :-).

Anywho, I saw that someone came over from the WaPo. I'm like 'What in the world?' Turns out they have a trackback-like function through Technorati that picked up my link to this article by Sharon.

That's right. Sean Meade on the Washington Post. I'll try not to let it go to my head ;-)

+ Instrumental Analysis has a really nice post about why Smashing Pumpkins in his favorite band. They are not my favorite band, but I really like them. For one thing, I think Billy Corgan is a great songwriter. (I found this via The Hype Machine, btw.)

+ Also from tHM, some names I've liked recently:
  • The Svengalis
  • Springmaid Fabrics (since I've been to the company's place at Myrtle Beach and through their hometown of Ft Mill, SC.
That's all for now. Check ya' later ;-)

Hmm. Hmm. Hmm. Hmm.

This post named for a song I liked and Christine hated ;-)

+ Hmm. Did you know, in English, myriad was initially used as a noun, then passed into adjectival use, such that some of us (including me) thought that was the only appropriate usage? Me neither.

+ Hmm. I'm experimenting today with just scanning all of my 100+ feed items so far today in Google Reader at one time. I like it so far, though it will take a little adjusting. I like it enough to keep fooling with it. Before I was looking at one feed at a time. I thought, 'Man, I wish it was easier to jump to the next feed' (easier than 'shift-n, shift-o', just to show you what my overexertion threshold is ;-). Another nice thing about it is it's purely chronological, so you get a better sense of the flow.

Ooh. And if you're going to do that, you can just view in full screen with 'u'. This has real potential...

+ Hmm. I thought about posting something about this link, but then I thought 'Would any of my even potential readers care about that at all? This isn't principally a diary. Hopefully some of you potentially care about what I do post ;-)

(NOT fishing for compliments here.)

+ OK, this was the thought that started this post. Turns out I have been singing that song wrong. I had the lyrics wrong. Oh well. I'll leave it here. Kathy might like it ;-)

Hmm. I see from the Hype Machine that OMD has a song called 'She's leaving'. Didn't they also sing 'If you leave'? Let's apply a little logic to this:

If you leave (don't look back) that would cause my heart to break, and
She's leaving (and let's assume, for argument's sake, that she look back), thus
My heart is breaking

Just a little philosophy geek humor ;-)

Wednesday, January 10

Get your 'interact' here!

+ My buddy, Jim, wrote in this comment that my weblog, interact, is the top Google result for Sean Meade, but that I probably knew that.

Yes, I did know that ;-)

I mean, I have a pretty robust internet presence by virtue of liking this intarweb thing and participating a lot for the past 7 years.

In fact, 8 of the top 10 results on that Google search refer to me here and there. 15/2018/30 (though one of these is a guy who took exception with my moderation of Tom's comments). 23/40 (but one of these was a time I got kicked into MetaTalk and I'd forgotten). 29/50. And then it starts to taper off...

But I digress ;-)

Then Jim wrote that he was going to check Google for interact. I thought 'Well, that won't be very high...', but since I didn't hear back from Jim, I looked it up myself.


Dang! That's pretty strong! I mean, 'interact' is a fairly generic word, you know?

Tuesday, January 9

Steve, Jaq, and Mitt

+ Oh wow. The new iPhone is beautiful. I doubt I'll drop 600$ for one (it'd have to be the 8GB version ;-), but it is gorgeous and sounds great: (wide/touch)screen iPod, smartphone, Wi-Fi, camera, accelerometer, GPS, Bluetooth.  You know I'm not an Apple fan boy, but...

+ Jaq's got a great quote (though you probably have to have played D&D to find it funny:

Jesus saves. The rest of you take full damage.

Where's that guy get off naming his character 'Jesus' anyway? ;-)

+ Dean Barnett (no relation to Tom) has an interesting post on why Mitt Romney may be the Republican front-runner.


Safe-guarding your computer

Steve and Bradd have a post today, Zombie Computer Threat Increasing , about bot nets and zombie computers that made me want to double- check my computers and their security. This post links to an NYT article, Attack of the Zombie Computers Is Growing Threat that was interesting to me, but probably not to you. The NYT article links to some tips for protecting your computer, Tips for Protecting the Home Computer, but they're pretty generic and blan d, which is really why I de cided to write this post.

In case you don't know me, let me tell you where I'm coming from: I'm not paranoid about the Internet AT ALL. I buy things from Amazon and eBay. I trust secure sites to protect my information. I like PayPal. So if you're looking for failsafe protection, you'll have to look elsewhere (though I'll tell you where).

(I'm also not going to talk a lot about what to do if you're ALREADY infected with bots. If that's the case, try Wikipedia's entry on Zombie computers , and click on their link to
A detailed account of what a zombie machine looks like and what it takes to "fix"it ).

Now, to get on with it.

I am both lazy and a big fan of Support Alert, so I'm just going to lean on Gizmo's recommendations for this little tutorial. Gizmo is paranoid, and his computers are far more secure than mine. Just reading through his 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities will point you to the kinds of measures he takes. If you're that into it, you should also subscribe to his newsletter to make sure you're getting the latest information.

Let me encourage you: this is not that hard and not expensive. My coverage is free and relatively easy. You should be able to pull this off if you can download software and install it.

Another great thing about Gizmo's guides: he points to the pay options, too, if you really want to go whole hog.

Okay, here's what you need, in my opinion:

1. Anti-Virus : I use AVG and like it quite well.
2. Anti-Ad/Spy/Scumware: I use Windows Defender (though it pains me, since I'm a little anti-Microsoft ;-).
3. Firewall: I use the Windows firewall as well, but may need to upgrade here.
4. Browser: If you're still surfing with Internet Explorer, it is also a security risk. You may want to switch to Firefox or something else.
5. Wireless: If you have a wireless router, you should secure it with a password. The manufacturer should provide instructions on how to do this.

That's it. If you get this much protection going, regularly updated, you are going to be, say, 95% of the way there. Beyond that, you better study up, maybe starting with Gizmo's recommendations.

Ask questions in the comments. Someone else might have 'em, too!

Monday, January 8

Hands in pockets

Wil's got this incredibly cute new habit where he puts his hands in his pockets. It doesn't seem to be out of insecurity. It just looks like it feels comfortable to him. He does it so much that when I put my hands in my pockets, it reminds me of him. I *feel* like him. Makes me smile :-)

Civ IV and Gotham

+ I can quit anytime...

Well, not really. But I'm doing much better at managing my Civilization addiction, even since getting Civ IV from my mom and dad (!) for Christmas. (I think they got an assist from my dear sister ;-)

(BTW, have you noticed the 'iv' repeat in 'Civ IV'? Pretty cool, huh? Otherwise, I don't usually use Roman numerals.)

Anyway, I still think Civilization Anonymous is pretty funny.

It was bed time last night, and I really was wrapping it up (honest!), and I said 'One more turn' to Christine, which makes me think of CA's tagline: 'No more turns.' So true :-)

More info: I even took Civ IV *off* my wishlist because I wasn't sure it was a good idea to get it.

Quick review: I like Civ IV a lot. I like the new mechanics, many of them actually simpler.

I don't like the ginormity of the program. It almost crashes my laptop every time I play it. Now you'll remember, I just got this laptop in August. I didn't get a *gaming* laptop, but, sheesh, you expect it to cope better than that. I don't need all of the 3D graphics and flyovers and flying around and movies and sound. They're nice, but I'd rather have the choice to make it a little easier on the system. But I still like it.

55 - A Tourist Map of Gotham (via kottke)

Saturday, January 6

Eventful day

Mostly a lot of work on Tom's weblog, but here are a few links I saved for you - for you, dear reader! ;-)

+ We went to the Columbia Museum of Art for the first time today. We especially wanted to see the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit. It was pretty coochie (as we say in this house) - mostly drawings and furniture and textiles. But that was probably good for the twins. And, since saturdays are free, we didn't have to feel like we needed to stay a long time and 'get our money's worth' or anything like that.

+ Went back and watched the 300 trailers. I'm stoked about this movie. And my dear wife secured the hardcover graphic novel for me for Christmas!

+ More names I like from Hype Machine
  • El Perro del Mar
  • The Svengalis

Thursday, January 4

News from the Cynical Center

+ Headline I wish was a joke: Bush Pushes Balanced Budget on Democrats. Give me a break. 6 years of overspending with his own party in the majority has disqualified him from such a 'push'.

+ Group: ExxonMobil Paid to Mislead Public. I'm sure. This happens to be about the issue of global warming. But, if I'm not mistaken, Exxon hasn't payed their Valdez spill costs yet.

As part of Big Oil, they have to get behind the Big Three for pursuing profits at the cost of what's good for America, heck, at the cost, simply of accurate information.

Every time I hear an ad on the radio about GM going green, or see their crappy print ads about how green they are, it makes me want to file a class-action lawsuit. They've pursued profits for years and years at the expense of fuel economy. Now they want me to believe they want to stem our dependence on foreign oil? Is anybody stupid enough to believe that?!

+ Garcia and Philly Are a Perfect Fit. Two reasons not mentioned in this article.
  1. Garcia has not lost as an Eagle, yet.
  2. We have to at least mention the issue of race. Is it possible the Philly Faithful are more apt to embrace a white QB than a black QB?
+ Title-seeking Tide Celebrates Saban Hiring. Note to successful college coaches: There are many things about coaching in the NFL that are much worse than the NCAA. Before you go for the 'prestige' of the NFL, talk to Saban, Carroll, Callahan, Davis, Spurrier, etc.

That's all I've got for this morning. I trust you are sufficiently edified ;-)

Wednesday, January 3

This should do the trick for you

+ What the internet apparently is not good for: LaDanian Tomlinson videos. I've only found one decent one so far...

+ Happy 115th birthday, Professor Tolkien.

+ I'm so awesome I even knew the definition and etymology of the word for today: favonian.

(Actually, I only knew it because Favonius is the name of our high school's (Iowa City West) literary magazine.)

+ Thirteen photographs that changed the world (via kottke)

+ kottke also links Time's Top 10 video games of the year, featuring this gem:

There is no possible way to say this enough times: great graphics don't make great games. Perfect Dark Zero looked like a Titian, but it was a snooze. Wii Sports—a mini-sports anthology that includes golf, boxing, tennis, baseball and bowling—looks like Colecovision.

And that's ok. They rank it as their top game.

Makes you think Nintendo was on the right track when they made the Wii fun and affordable instead of getting into the 'polygons rendered in HD' war with Sony and Micro$oft...

Then Super Mario Bros. for the DS comes in third. And Twilight Princess (Wii) fourth.

Lego Star Wars 2 at number 9. Came to our house for Christmas and it's a big hit.

+ Winner-Take-All: Google and the Third Age of Computing

+ More names I like from Hype Machine:
  • Pilchard (in honor of Bob the Builder)
  • Oxfam Glamour Models
  • Talib Kweli ('kweli' means 'truth' in Swahili)
  • Balkan Babes
  • Times New Viking

Wil on Civ4

I was looking at the Civ4 manual the other night while lying in bed with Wil, waiting for him to fall asleep. He said 'Daddy, do you have rememorize all that to play the game? I said I knew most of it and was just looking for the stuff I didn't know...